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SBA Announces Funding to Boost Export Opportunities for Small Businesses through STEP Grant to John H. Chafee Center for International Business

 

SMITHFIELD, RI – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced that small businesses owners across the country will have access to $17.4 million in funding to help them enter and compete in the global marketplace.  Forty awards from the agency’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program will be made to states and territories to support activities to increase exporting by small businesses.  In Rhode Island, the John H. Chaffee Center for International Business at Bryant University will receive a $373,000 grant.
“I commend the Chafee Center for providing comprehensive international trade services to help local businesses expand into international markets.  This federal funding is a smart investment in growing jobs and exports here in Rhode Island and helping local businesses expand into foreign markets,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, who helped create the STEP program as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

SBA Regional Administrator Seth Goodall was joined by Rhode Island small business owners Cheryl Zimmerman, President and CEO of Farsounder and Thomas Tanury, President of Tanury Industries, both who have benefited from prior STEP program funds.  “Exports are a central part of America’s economic growth; with export-supported jobs paying 15-18% more. Yet less than one percent of small businesses export; and of those that do, 58 percent of them export to only one country. Unlocking trade opportunities for small businesses as has been done by many Rhode Island small businesses is key to continued growth and expansion, said Seth Goodall, SBA New England Regional Administrator.

The purpose of the 2015 awards is for states to assist small businesses with export related activities or other export initiatives that are in line with the objectives of the program. These objectives include participation in foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, subscription services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as design of international marketing campaigns, export trade show exhibits, training workshops and more.

“We are grateful for the continued support from the SBA, which allows Bryant Faculty, students and the staff at the Chafee Center for International Business to work with Rhode Island companies to expand their global footprint through trade missions and export promotion.  This is just one example of this universities contribution to economic development efforts,” said Ronald K. Machtley, Bryant University President.

SBA’s STEP program ensures local resources are available to help small businesses tap global markets. By funding states and their export development partners, the SBA is delivering the tools and resources required for small businesses to launch their services and products abroad. With 95% of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, SBA’s STEP program ensures that America’s small businesses can succeed in the 21st century global economy.

“This funding will provide Rhode Island small businesses with the tools they need to compete in today’s global economy,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I congratulate the state and the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University on receiving this award, and I look forward to seeing how our innovative Rhode Island entrepreneurs put the funding to use.”
“Bryant University is an exceptional business school with a reputation for fostering talent and supporting young entrepreneurs. This STEP program award will further enhance Bryant’s business programming and empower its small business partners to expand their reach in the international market,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “Congratulations to the John H. Chafee Center for International Business on this exciting announcement. I look forward to seeing how these funds will be leveraged to elevate Rhode Island business and spur economic growth both at home and abroad.”

The STEP program is designed to increase both the number of small businesses that begin to export and the value of exports for small businesses currently exporting.  Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative.

Lt. Governor Daniel McKee representing Governor Gina Raimondo said, “Small businesses are the backbone of the Rhode Island economy, and we must support their efforts to grow and innovate in every way we can.”

McKee, who is co-chair of the Small Business Advocacy Council continued, “This funding to support the STEP program at the Chafee Center will ensure the continuation of critical assistance to our small businesses as they seek to expand exports in an increasingly global economy.”

Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Warwick), representing Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed said, “This grant is an investment in Rhode Island businesses, who can utilize the expertise of the Chafee Center to create trade opportunities and expand their global reach. The Chafee Center provides effective guidance and assistance for companies looking to enter or expand in the international market. This unique partnership is a tremendous resource for Rhode Island companies.”

The STEP program is designed to increase both the number of small businesses that begin to export and the value of exports for small businesses currently exporting.  Expanding the base of small business exporters and making the process as easy as possible is a key component of the Administration’s National Export Initiative.

Recipients in the first two rounds of STEP awards, in FY 2011 and FY 2012,  reported a strong return on investment of over 19:1.  This grant is $73k high than the prior grant to the Chafee Center.

For additional information on the STEP program and the FY 2015 awardees, visit https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/oit/resources/14315, or contact Mark S. Hayward, SBA Rhode Island district director at 401-523-4037 or Mark.Hayward@sba.gov.

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